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China to upgrade comprehensive bonded zones into new platforms of high-standard opening-up

Zhang Yue
Updated: Jan 2,2019 10:11 PM

China will introduce measures to upgrade its comprehensive bonded zones in line with advanced international standards to promote trade and investment facilitation, maintain steady growth in foreign trade and investment, and nurture new competitive advantages, the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Jan 2.

The Chinese government places great importance on the development of comprehensive bonded zones and other forms of special customs supervision areas. President Xi Jinping stressed on several occasions the importance of developing a higher-level open economy, expanding foreign trade, cultivating new trade models and forms, and improving the regional layout of opening-up. Premier Li Keqiang repeatedly called for efforts to expand and upgrade opening-up, substantively enhance trade facilitation and improve the business climate for overseas investors.

In the first three quarters of 2018, imports and exports in China’s special customs supervision areas, comprehensive bonded zones included, reached 3.67 trillion yuan, up by 11.8 percent year-on-year and accounting for 16.5 percent of the country’s total foreign trade in the same period. These special areas have attracted investment from many leading global manufacturers and created over 2 million jobs.

“The comprehensive bonded zones have served as a window in China’s opening-up. Their special and important role in sustaining the steady growth of foreign trade and investment must be fully harnessed. We should also encourage these zones to actively expand the domestic market,” Premier Li said.

The meeting decided on a number of supportive measures for these zones.

More efforts will be made to facilitate domestic sales by companies in the zones. The general taxpayer status of VAT will be piloted in the comprehensive bonded zones. Processing and manufacturing companies in the zones will be permitted to undertake outsourced processing businesses from outside the zones of the mainland market. No application for the automatic import license will be required for selling products made in the zones, such as cell phones and auto parts, on the domestic market.

Research and development, and innovation will be spurred. All goods and items that companies in the zones import for R&D purposes will be exempted from import licensing, except for those prohibited from border entry. Bonded and other policies will be employed in a holistic way to support R&D and innovation institutions in the zones. Newly established R&D and processing companies in the zones, once evaluated as having met relevant standards, will immediately be granted the highest credit rating.

Logistics will be facilitated. In the course of corporate production and operation, any eligible item entering the comprehensive bonded zones and bonded goods in transfer from one zone to another will be exempted from customs clearance procedures. The comprehensive bonded zones in ports that allow whole-vehicle imports will be permitted to undertake bonded storage, display and other businesses.

New forms of business will be developed. Companies in the zones will be allowed to undertake high-tech, high-value-added bonded test, global maintenance and re-manufacturing businesses that meet environmental requirements. International services outsourcing will be supported to boost cross-border trade in services. Policies for retail imports under cross-border e-commerce will be fully adopted in the comprehensive bonded zones in due course. Qualified comprehensive bonded zones will receive support to conduct bonded futures delivery.

The comprehensive bonded zones will be supported in taking the lead in applying the experience gained in the pilot free trade zones to realize the integrated upgrading of all special customs supervision areas.